The Lanka Academic

 
FEBRUARY 21, 2008 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 8, NO. 321

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Rights group lashes rebels, government over child soldiers as fighting rages in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Thu February 21, 2008 11:44 EST . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) An international human rights group called Thursday on the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka - 's Tamil Tiger rebels for using child soldiers. The military, meanwhile, announced that 24 rebels and a soldier were killed in fresh fighting. International rights groups have long criticized the Tamil Tigers and other armed groups in Sri Lanka - for forcibly recruiting children.

The rebels promised earlier to stop using child soldiers and Human Rights Watch said reported cases had dropped significantly, but UNICEF said there were still at least 196 children in the guerrilla force at the end of January.

The Human Rights Watch report also accused the government of ignoring the use of child soldiers by the Karuna group, a former rebel force now allied with the government.

The Tamil Tigers and Karuna group ``continue to use children to fight their battles in clear violation of international law and Security Council resolutions,'' said Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch's child rights advocate.

``The Security Council should punish their brazen violations with concrete action,'' Becker said.

The group called on the U.N. to condemn the government's inaction on the issue and to give the rebels and the Karuna group 30 days to release all child soldiers. If the two groups refuse, the U.N. should impose arms embargoes and travel bans on their leaders and freeze their assets.

Sri Lanka - sent a three-member team to New York to present its case to the U.N. experts meeting Thursday on the problem of child soldiers in Sri Lanka - , said Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.

``Our position, as far as the government is concerned, has always been a zero tolerance policy on child recruitment,'' Samarasinghe said.

Rebel spokesmen did not answer repeated calls for comment.

The rebels have complained that they were keeping their promises to stop using child soldiers but that a surge in fighting made it impossible for U.N. staff to verify their progress.

Violence has escalated along the front lines of the rebel's de facto state in recent weeks after the government officially pulled out of a 2002 cease-fire deal.

On Thursday, air force jets bombed two rebel positions used to fire artillery at soldiers along northern fronts, the military said in a statement.

The air raids in Mullaitivu and Mannar districts were successful, the statement said without giving more details.

Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said Thursday that 24 rebels and a soldier were killed Wednesday in fresh fighting along several fronts in the north. Added to earlier casualty reports, the new deaths brought the toll from Wednesday to 37 rebels and three soldiers killed.

Independent confirmation was unavailable because journalists are barred from the battle zone.

The two sides routinely exaggerate their enemy's casualties and downplay their own. The Sri Lankan government itself gave vastly different figures on the fighting, with the Defense Ministry reporting on its Web site that 92 rebels were killed Wednesday. Nanayakkara said he was unable to explain the large discrepancy.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said the raging fighting was worsening the country's humanitarian crisis. It urged the international community to recognize that peace efforts had failed and to focus on protecting civilians and strengthening democracy.

The group blamed the rebels for provoking the government into a renewed war two years ago. It accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of letting nationalist extremists control his government and said the military campaign against the rebels was ``more brutal and indiscriminate'' than it had been during previous rounds of fighting.

The think tank called on the government to protect civilians, allow U.N. human rights monitors into the country and enact reforms to protect the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

It appealed to the rebels to stop attacking civilians and to drop their demand for an independent state.
Published: Thu Feb 21 22:15:17 EST 2008


Rights group criticizes rebels, government over child soldiers in Sri Lankan civil war
Associated Press, Thu February 21, 2008 04:31 EST . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) An international human rights group said Thursday the U.N. Security Council should impose sanctions on Sri Lanka - 's Tamil Tiger rebels for using child soldiers and accused the government of ignoring child recruitment by an allied paramilitary force. International rights groups have long criticized the Tamil Tigers and other armed groups in Sri Lanka - for forcibly recruiting children.

The rebels promised earlier to stop using child soldiers and Human Rights Watch said reported cases had dropped significantly, but UNICEF said there were still at least 196 children in the guerrilla force at the end of January.

The Human Rights Watch report also accused the government of ignoring the use of child soldiers by the Karuna group, a former rebel force now allied with the government.

The Tamil Tigers and Karuna group ``continue to use children to fight their battles in clear violation of international law and Security Council resolutions,'' said Human Rights Watch's child rights advocate, Jo Becker.

``The Security Council should punish their brazen violations with concrete action,'' Becker said.

Sri Lanka - sent a three-member team to New York to present its case to the U.N. experts meeting Thursday on the problem of child soldiers in Sri Lanka - , said Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.

``Our position, as far as the government is concerned, has always been a zero tolerance policy on child recruitment,'' Samarasinghe said.

Rebel spokesmen were not immediately available for comment on the accusations.

The rebels have complained that they were keeping their promises to stop using child soldiers, but that a surge in fighting made it impossible for U.N. staff to verify their progress.

Violence has escalated along the front lines of the rebel's de facto state in recent weeks after the government officially pulled out of a 2002 cease-fire deal. Fighting killed 13 rebels and two soldiers Wednesday, the military said.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said fighting was worsening the country's humanitarian crisis. It urged the international community to recognize that peace efforts had failed and to focus on protecting civilians and strengthening democracy.

The group blamed the rebels for provoking the government into a renewed war two years ago. It accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of letting nationalist extremists control his government and said the military campaign against the rebels was ``more brutal and indiscriminate'' than it had been during previous rounds of fighting.

The think tank called on the government to protect civilians, allow U.N. human rights monitors into the country and enact reforms to protect the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

It appealed to the rebels to stop attacking civilians and to drop their demand for an independent state.Discuss this story
Published: Thu Feb 21 07:07:24 EST 2008 Back to the top


Sri Lanka court flays arrests of Tamils
Southasianpost, feb 22. Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has rapped the police for indiscriminately arresting Tamils in drives meant to nab Tamil Tiger suspects or their collaborators.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Sarath Silva last week asked the police to formulate rules on detention, arrest and investigation of Tamils who might be suspected of being agents of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE has been waging an armed struggle to secure an independent Tamil state of Eelam in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

The Supreme Court said the rules for detention should be submitted to it March 4.

The order came on a fundamental rights petition filed by the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), a political party cum trade union representing Tamils of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. More... Discuss this story
Published: Thu Feb 21 21:43:24 EST 2008 Back to the top


SRI LANKA: Restrictions Tighten on Media
ips, feb 22. COLOMBO, Feb 20 (IPS) - Gemunu Amerasinghe, a photographer with the international news wire Associated Press, was shooting earlier this month in downtown Colombo for an innocuous assignment -- or so he thought... Back to the top

Kosovo may set a bad precedent: Lankan govt
Dawn, feb 22. The Sri Lankan government, battling the Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for a separate state in the country’s north-east, has refused to endorse the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Kosovo denouncing it as a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and stating that it could set an ‘unmanageable precedent’... Back to the top

Tamil separatists hail Kosovo's independence
ians, feb 22. Separatist Sri Lankan Tamils have hailed the emergence of an independent Kosovo with Western support, saying it augurs well for the liberation of "oppressed" minorities like the Tamils of northeast Sri Lanka... Back to the top

Sri Lankan Navy opens fire on Indian fishermen
pti, feb 22. Sri Lankan Navy personnel today opened fire on Indian fishermen who were engaged in fishing within the territorial waters of the island nation between Talaimannar and Katchativu, sources said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Repels Rebel Assault in Mannar Region, Military Says
bloomberg, feb 21. Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's army said it repelled an assault by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to regain land the rebels lost near Mannar, as a research group said the South Asian island nation's conflict is worse than before a 2002 truce. The army ``thrashed a pre-dawn LTTE offensive attempt'' north of Parappakandal in Mannar yesterday, killing at least 30 rebel fighters, the Defense Ministry said on its Web site... Back to the top

Sri Lankan inventor hopes to give mobility to thousands
lbo, feb 22. Feb 22 2008, (LBO) - A Sri Lankan inventor is setting up a facility to provide customized artificial limbs to thousands who lave lost their limbs to war, decease and accidents... Back to the top

Sri Lanka says kills 92 Tiger rebels in push north
reuters.com, Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:45am EST. COLOMBO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan troops have killed 92 rebels in the latest offensive into their northern stronghold, the island's defence ministry said on Thursday... Back to the top

UN urged to impose sanctions on Lankan armed groups for using kids
TOI, feb 21. WASHINGTON: An international human rights watchdog has asked the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on armed groups in Sri Lanka for using children in their forces... Back to the top

13 Tamil Tiger rebels, 5 soldiers killed in violence, Sri Lanka 's military says
Associated Press, Wed February 20, 2008 20:02 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels fought battles in Sri Lanka - 's restive north and suspected rebels ambushed an army post in the south, killing 13 guerrillas and five soldiers, the military said... Back to the top

Dhoni, Symonds fetch highest prices in IPL spending frenzy
Associated Press, Wed February 20, 2008 11:28 EST . RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM - Associated Press Writer - Mumbai, having bid strongly for Dhoni and Symonds without success, spent heavily to secure Sri Lanka - 's 38-year-old opening batsman and former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya for US$975,000 (euro661,380) per year, while also landing India offspinner Harbhajan Singh... Back to the top

Indian league knocks ’em for six!
Khaleej Times Online , feb 21. DUBAI — Cricket fans in UAE are keeping a keen eye on the auctions in India... Back to the top

LTTE to blame, says NGO
hindu.com, Thursday, Feb 21, 2008. B. Muralidhar Reddy COLOMBO: The International Crisis Group, a multi-national NGO focusing on conflict zones, said in a report on Wednesday, “With Sri Lanka again in civil war, the international community must concentrate on protecting civilians from the war’s worst effects and supporting those working to preserve its embattled democratic institutions... Back to the top

28 killed in LTTE-Army clashes
indiatimes.com, 20 Feb 2008. COLOMBO: At least 25 LTTE militants and three Sri Lankan soldiers were killed in fierce clashes between security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels in the island nation's embattled north and southern region, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka push into rebel north leaves many dead: ministry
google.com, 20 feb. COLOMBO (AFP) — Heavy fighting erupted in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday as government troops tried to take Tamil rebel-held territory, the defence ministry said, reporting scores of guerrillas killed or wounded... Back to the top

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